Transforming food and agriculture in Fiji, connecting farmers with the market
The Fijian agriculture sector is a mix of commercial (selling products in the markets) and subsistence farming (for local and self-consumption, on a day to day basis). The latter produces 80 percent of the food supply in the country. To upgrade agriculture, you need to upskill and professionalize farmers, said Jiu Daunivalu, the chief executive officer(CEO) of the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC), the Government´s umbrella body for Fiji’s non-sugar agricultural sector. The FCLC clusters farmers in national associations and legally establishes a commodity-based register,–that today is comprised of 15 national associations representing almost 60.000 farmers.
Empowerment of small farmers is key for sustainable agriculture. It is about upscaling the traditional way of farming by providing knowledge and capacity building. This implies not only best practice on how to become successful, but also on the requirements of the market, such as the actors along all of the food chain and the opportunities. “This is a total change in the approach for farmers”, she pointed out.
In order to promote efficiency and inclusiveness in transforming the food and agriculture systems, FLCL has conducted contract farming training workshops, jointly facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This has made significant progress in securing agreements between farmers and buyers, while reducing risks related to fluctuating prices or natural disasters
Almost 90% of the land is owned by indigenous Fijians. They are confronted with the difficult task of trying to maintain their values while working with the influences of the market economy. In this sense, farmers also need to differentiate between social obligations and commercial principles, namely how much they have to plant and what the costs are. “If farmers understand these principles, they can ask the right questions”, Daunivalu underlined. For instance, farmers become more capable of pitching to a bank for funding, which is one particular challenge they face.
And there is more room for improvement. Men are over-represented in subsistence agriculture and make up the majority of market vendors in Fiji. FLCL encourages the participation of women and makes them aware of the benefits of upskilling.
But restructuring the sector is not possible without identifying the demands of the beneficiaries. In other words, profiling farmers from a structural approach, which starts with knowing who are commercial and who are subsistence farmers, and in which products. “It is like having a shopping list from the farmers. Our services are needs-based. We are the voice of farmers”, she outlined.
Promoting dialogue and partnerships is also fundamental. To this effect, FCLC has set up a virtual platform to help farmers to interact with FCLC and other members, and has engaged with “successful farmers who have stories to tell” so that they share their good practices. At the same time, FLCL teams up with key agricultural stakeholders, like the Fiji Development Bank. It goes both ways, “you see yourself right at the Strategical Development Plan coming down, and you can translate everything down to the farmers, the CEO explained.About the entity: Fiji Crop and Livestock Council
The Fiji Crop and Livestock Council acts as an advocacy forum to better represent the needs of farmers to government and stakeholders, including banks and aid agencies. It aims to drive growth and development for the sector.
It also collects data from the field and offers capacity-building to farmers for better understand challenges to the industry and participation in the decision-making process.About the expert: Jiu Daunivalu
Jiu Daunivalu was raised in a village on the remote island of Naroi (Fiji) and moved to Suva to complete her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics at the University of the South of the Pacific.
Mrs. Daunivalu worked at the Minister for Industry and Trade of Fiji for ten years. Later, she joined the Fiji Ports Corporations, and in 2012 she moved to Digicel Fiji Limited as the Regional Manager West. She was appointed chief executive officer for FCLC in 2016 until today.
Article courtesy of www.fao.org –
EXPERTS’ CORNER – 02.11.2020
2 November 2020, Rome/Suva